While on a business trip to Philadelphia I had the great pleasure to visit the newly reopened Barnes Foundation. What a treat! If you haven’t heard of the Foundation or been for a visit, I highly recommend doing so. There is more history than I could begin to write about so I have included some links to stories that I hope you will find as interesting as I did. It is absolutely time well spent for all!
Dr. Albert Barnes, the creator and founder of the Barnes Foundation, grew up in Philadelphia and made his fortune with the invention of Argyrols, an antiseptic silver compound used in the prevention of infant blindness. He was introduced to art at an early age and spent 30 years (1921-1951) amassing a collection of works that would be the genesis of the Barnes Foundation. The collection consists of 800 works by Cezanne, Picasso, Renoir and Matisse to name a few and is today valued at approx. $25 billion.
But beyond the fascinating and colorful details of the life of Dr. Barnes and his keen eye for art and curatorship there is another story that is equally interesting and intriguing. Barnes hung his art at his home in the suburbs of Philadelphia and by the time he died he had made arrangements so that it would remain intact as a collection under the Barnes Foundation. Strict by laws ensured that for over fifty years the collection remained intact, untouched, and just as Barnes had left it on the day he died. Fifty years later, with no funding and in a dilapidated building, the board did the impossible and was able, after a lengthy trial, to move the collection to a brand new building designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects in the heart of Philadelphia.
The articles bellow, tell of the trials and tribulations and the ultimate accomplishments of a dedicated board that have forever changed the cultural scene of America’s first capital.